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John Spinelli

Vice President - Population Oncology and Distinguished Scientist

 J Spinelli

Telephone: 604-877-6068 
#610 - 750 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC, V5Z 1H5    

Research Roles:



  • PhD (Statistics), Simon Fraser University, 1994

  • MSc (Statistics), Simon Fraser University, 1981
  • BSc (Math/Psychology), Simon Fraser University, 1979


Research Interests:

  • Gene-environment interactions in cancer (GENIC)
  • Biostatistical and epidemiologic methods
  • Molecular epidemiology
  • Genetics susceptibility and cancer
  • Cancer and the environment, particularly pesticides
  • Etiology of lymphoma, multiple myeloma and leukemia

  • Etiology of breast cancer

  • Goodness-of-fit techniques


A case-control study of genetic and environmental risk factors for multiple myeloma and MGUS (Molecular Epidemiology of Multiple Myeloma and MGUS) is ongoing. This study will focus on the role of organochlorines (PCBs and pesticides), sunlight and insulin-like growth factors. Genetic susceptibility and gene-environment interactions will be examined. Data collection will be completed in 2015.

Data collection has recently begun on a case-control study of brain tumours in youth and young adults. This study is focusing on the relationship between communication technologies including mobile phones and environmental factors and brain cancer in young people. Genetic susceptibility will also be examined. Data collection will be completed in 2015.

A case-control study of genetic and environmental risk factors for breast cancer (Molecular Epidemiology of Breast Cancer) recently completed data collection. Of particular interest is the risk for exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and light at night as well as genetic susceptibility. This study was conducted in Ontario and British Columbia. Data analysis is underway.

I have completed a case-control study of genetic and environmental risk factors for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (Risk Factors for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma). Of particular interest is the risk for exposure to organochlorines and gene-environment interactions. Data analysis is continuing.

These studies of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and multiple myeloma are also part of international consortia (International Lymphoma Epidemiology and International Multiple Myeloma). These consortia are international collaborations of groups from North America, Europe and Australia examining risk factors for non-Hodgkin lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Data are pooled among the different studies enabling better risk estimates and the ability to examine disease subtypes.

My main statistical research areas are in the development of tests of fit for discrete distributions and for models used in statistical analysis (Goodness-of-Fit), and the development and application of methodology for genetic risk estimation in case-control studies (Genetic risk estimation).

Our  BC Generations Project has assembled a cohort of nearly 30,000 British Columbia residents  between the ages of 35 and 69, who have completed an etiologic questionnaire and have or will soon contribute blood and urine specimens for storage, and will be followed over the next 25 years to investigate gene - environment interaction in the causation of cancer and other chronic disease. Together with investigators in 4 other provinces also recruiting participants we expect to be able to build a research platform comprised of data and specimens from 250,000 Canadian called the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow. The platform will allow large-scale studies of the causes of many chronic diseases, and facilitate identification of new early disease detection biomarkers, and markers of carcinogenic exposure by Canadian and international scientists for many years in the future.


Recently Completed Studies:

  • Evaluation of selection bias in studies of childhood leukemia and EMF
  • Aluminum workers cohort
  • Registered nurses cohort